We wanted to keep this renowned spot at the top of our list, where it’s been since our very first barbecue story, in 1973. But after repeated visits by various staffers, we had to be honest: we couldn’t. The brisket was consistently disappointing. The scanty fat on the “fatty” was opaque and sinewy, the meat looked like shredded wheat, and the smoke was noticeably lacking on one visit too many. The shoulder clod was tender, but it’s no stand-in for good brisket. Still, we realize, these are only two meats on the menu, and the remaining items were as heavenly as they’ve ever been. The thick pork chop was divinely smoky on every visit, and the snappy beef-and-pork sausage, heavy on the pepper, is truly one of the best in Barbecueland. The pork spareribs tasted fresh, with plenty of juicy, delicious meat on them, and the beef ribs were scrumptious, if a little too chewy. There’s no doubt this is still a barbecue institution (when owner Rick Schmidt retired in 2011, he sold the place to his son, Keith), and we’ll definitely keep coming, not only for the meats they do well but also for the experience of walking through the massive hall into the smoky cutting room where Roy Perez stands at the chopping block, with his distinctive mutton chop sideburns.
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